Overcoming Temptation

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Growing up, I found Scarlett O’Hara as beautiful as her clothes and as charming as the gentlemen did that surrounded her in the opening scene of the film, Gone with the Wind, as she is seated at the barbecue at Twelve Oaks. What I didn’t realize until my late twenties and early thirties was though Scarlett embodied earthly beauty and charm, she also personified the fatal characteristics of our sin-nature; she always wanted more and better than she thought she possessed.

Now that I see Scarlett in a different light, what is there left to glean from this both iconic and fictitious character’s life and personification?

Scarlett O’Hara’s character always wants more. She wanted another’s husband, a larger bank account, and a pantry full so that she would never go hungry again. She embodied greed and self-interest.

Contrast this constant desire for more or better with God’s teachings of contentment. God teaches us to be content with what we have, constantly giving thanks in all circumstances. Remember, we came into the world empty handed and naked, and so shall we leave.

Continue reading this post over at iBelieve.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Homeland: A Christmas Series

Homeland Part 1

When I was young in the mountains, I never wanted to go to the ocean, and I never wanted to go to the desert. I never wanted to go anywhere else in the world, for I was in the mountains. And that was always enough. (Cynthia Rylant, When I Was Young in the Mountains)

I have spoken to several men and women whom desire to live in a different place than where they are. Admittedly, several times in a given week or month, I am one of them. I often love the place I live and other moments I desire a grand adventure far, far away. This phenomena has prompted me to contemplate whether this is a perspective shared by historical accounts of men and women documented in the Bible. So far my search has turned up empty.

I believe the desire for novelty and adventure are good, and God-given, but I also wrestle with the reality that it can be a sign of ingratitude, discontent, and a blinding of my eyes to the mission God has given in the present, to the gifts of here and now. This Christmas God has guided my thoughts on the matter to the account of the shepherds and the wise men.

There are two groups of men that were called to worship and witness the Christ-child: the shepherds and the wise men. The shepherds traveled walking distance to witness the new born King of Kings. These men, by vocation, were homebodies often sleeping among the sheep they guarded and never going far from their flock.

And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  (Luke 2:17-18, ESV)

Conversely, the wise men traveled up to two years to witness the Messiah. Their journey started when they saw the star rise and set out to worship him.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.  And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasure, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:10-11, ESV)

In considering the missions of both these two vastly different groups of men, a few similarities stand out:

  • Their mission was to find the Christ and worship Him.
  • They were given a sign to know that they had found the Messiah.
  • They obeyed their assignment.
  • Their response was worship and joy.

Whether shepherd or wise man, pauper or prince, native or foreigner, those that are in Christ Jesus are each traveling to the same homeland. They are each integral parts to the story of the world, redemption, and the promised restoration of God’s creation. We each work in our areas of influence so that it too can be said of us as the cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 11:

For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:14-16, ESV, emphasis mine)

Shepherds heeded the heralding angels and the wise men followed the star; we are all called to follow the King. Each of us as part of the story should look to our homeland and work toward that same end. Let us find something in our surroundings today to be grateful for and to recognize the hand of God in our adventures near or far.

Have you encountered any men or women in the Bible who desired a grand adventure away from the place they were living? I would love to hear your answers if so. You can leave a comment below or e-mail me at Brooke.Cooney.1@gmail.com.

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Labor and Contentment

 

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As we celebrate Labor Day, a day to honor the workers of America, there are some points of contentment for us to consider.

In Acts chapter 17, Paul is explaining to the Greeks in Athens that God placed man in his determined dwelling places at their appointed times so that they would seek after Him and find Him though He is not far from us.  God has placed us here at this time for His purposes and our good. Likewise, He has blessed us with the resources that we now posses in order that we would use them for His glory.

The resources that God has granted us are a gift from His hand that can be removed at any moment. Today as we rest from our labors, why not reflect on our present level of contentment with what we have and take time to be grateful?

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” ~Luke 12:15

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. ~1 Timothy 6:6-8

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~Hebrews 13:5

Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. ~Psalms 119:36-37

I am very grateful to live in the land of opportunity and freedom. I want to protect these God-given rights and offer up the sacrifice of praise to God, the giver of all good gifts, with a heart of contentment and as a worker approved.

Happy Labor Day friends! Thank you for how you serve your fellow-man and the Risen Savor with your labors. May we continue to work in such a way as to bring Him glory and our brothers and sisters good. May we serve out of a contented heart; grateful for all that we are given.

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Classic Grass Is Greener

Cue the gasp and high pitched voice. “Look at the wood paneling on that…and it isn’t even a station wagon. Is that a Jeep?”

Enter, sideways glance and mocking voice, “You cannot be serious.”

Those were the words between my husband and I Sunday afternoon.

I have a confession…I like wood panelled station wagons.

I know it may sound strange, but I sincerely would like to drive a station wagon.

Truthfully, I am saying this before ever test driving a station wagon with its’ “baby got back” extended cab. Perhaps after actually driving a station wagon, it would lose its’ affinity.

This jeep certainly lost its’ affinity for me once I drove up to take a closer look.

Vintage is vintage for a reason.

The paint seemed to be wearing thin in certain areas. The leather cracking. The old car smell was probably profuse as well.

I decided this was a classic example of the old adage, “The grass is not always greener on the other side.”

Growing up, my youth pastor would say, “If the grass is greener then you can’t see the manure piles from here or it has to be AstroTurf.” Similarly a friend says, “If someone else’s grass looks greener then take the time to water yours.”

Let us put on our spiritual lenses and apply these snippets to our current mental thoughts.

Perhaps we have been “green with envy” in some personal areas be it car, house, job, clothes, body, spouse, kids, you name it. If we knew what it cost to have what someone else has, or the reality of what we supposedly see then we might too say the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Instead, we might see the faded paint, ripped leather, and smell the old car smell as it really is.

What about you? Do you have a classic case of “the grass is greener?”

Also, am I the only one with station wagon love? I sincerely hope not.

 

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The Water Ripples and Wrinkles Time

I had not been there in years.

The creek at my father’s birthplace.

A few miles from the house that he and my mother now call home… yet really a world away.

Standing on the slippery, wet rocks took me back to elementary years when trips were more frequent and apprehensions of falling in ran a bit higher. Reminded of the thoughts of long ago that only encompassed myself and held no room for the two that we now call our own.

The water ripples and wrinkles time and this home is temporary.

A few decades back would have found my father and his family here playing and bathing in this same creek; full of water to the brim then. Yet now it finds him the grandfather of three and one on the way.

Present. The present is all that we really have and it is ever fleeting. Yet we choose to run ahead to grayer hair and “the day when,” although I dare say that day will not find me all “caught up” and content unless I choose to abide in the this day.

Our trip to Daddy’s land was a gift on the cusp of the new year, as was visiting with a cousin. Both I will treasure these next twelve months and in years to come.

Linking up with Rachel.

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